Off on holiday, but what about the dog?
Flights booked? Yes.
Accommodation booked? Yes.
Airport transfer, car hire and insurance sorted? If not, we can help with you that.
But …. what about Fido?
When you’ve got a four-legged friend to look after it can feel pretty stressful making sure that they are properly cared for when you’re away. The last thing you want is to be worrying about them whilst you’re sipping a margarita on the beach trying to relax. We know how important it is that your pets are happy and in a secure and stress-free environment to make your holiday as hassle-free as possible.
So we’ve come up with some top tips and advice to try and help you navigate the various options of holiday pet care. So whether it be Catteries, Kennels, Hotels, Pet Sitters or even a Pet Passport to bring your four-legged friend with you we’ve got suggestions for all your pet travel related services.
The more time the better.
You wouldn’t wait until the last minute to book your accommodation, so we would strongly advise not leaving it to the last minute to check out the different options for your pets. Whatever your preferred option (and we’ll come to these in a minute) it’s best to start sounding them out before you’ve booked your flights. Sounds mad, but do your research. Pet travel related services get booked up quickly in the summer holiday season so give yourself time to secure what you want, and at the best possible price.
Last minute bookings are not recommended!
Bringing your best friend with you?
Travelling with your pet is actually easier than it sounds. There are of course a plethora of fantastic pet-friendly locations in the UK and specialist websites dedicated to offering pet-friendly accommodation. Companies like Canine Cottages boast dog-friendly accommodation with added bonuses such as enclosed gardens, treats on arrival, and some even have dog pampering facilities. Another company dedicated to canine comforts is Pets Pyjamas, who offer five-star boutique stays as well as putting together exclusive experience packages if that sounds like you and your loyal friend's walk in the park.
In our eyes, all pets are equal so we shouldn’t exclude our feline friends from the opportunity to travel either. There are plenty of feline-friendly holiday listings out there too but it’s worth just thinking about how territorial you cat is and whether they might have an equally good time not going with you!
What if you fancy going a little further afield and want to take your four-legged friend with you? Why not we say - but as we said before, start planning it now as there is paperwork that needs to be in order before you leave the country. If it’s not right you’ll be prevented from bringing your pet out of the country and facing the agony of having to find emergency care for them or forfeiting your plans! As a disclaimer, we’ve focused on what you need to do if you want to take your pet to Europe under the EU Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). If you’re travelling outside of the EU different rules apply for most other countries so it’s important you check and don’t assume that they are the same. You can visit the DEFRA website here and check!
So where to start? Here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to do and in what order! Passport - Microchip - Rabies!
- Do you already have a pet passport?
If not, then keep on reading.
It’s a legal necessity if you are taking your dog, cat or ferret abroad. There are different restrictions depending on where you plan to take them so it is really important to read up and make sure that you understand the rules.
As mentioned, we're focussing on what you need to do if you’re travelling with your pet to another EU country but here’s our guide to what you need to know when sorting out a pet passport.
- Is your dog/cat/ferret microchipped?
If not, this is a legal requirement to be able to take your pet abroad so check with your vet and speak to them about the options It costs on average around £15 and can be a lifesaver if they ever go for an unexpected peruse of the local historical sights.
As a side note it’s worth remembering that it is now a legal requirement to have any dog over the age of eight weeks microchipped in England and Wales. So if you haven’t already and you’re thinking about taking them away with you, now might be a good time to do it, otherwise, you could be facing a £500 fine.
Whilst it’s not a legal requirement to have a cat microchipped in the UK, it is to take them away with you and we all know that they are their own masters, so again it can be a lifesaver when they decide to disappear off for a while and gives you the best chance of being reunited!
- Has your pet had a rabies vaccination?
Your pet needs to be vaccinated for rabies before they can legally travel and must be more than 3 calendar months old at the time of vaccination. They need to have been microchipped before they are vaccinated otherwise it won’t count! Once they have been vaccinated you will need to wait 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before travelling. Also, make sure that the jab is recorded, along with your pets microchip number in their passport and vaccination records.
If your pet has already been vaccinated then don’t forget that you are responsible for ensuring that all boosters are up to date.
- Treatment for tapeworms- dogs only!
On return to the UK, you will need to have treated your dog for tapeworms no less than 24 hours before and not more than 120 hours (1-5 days). This treatment needs to have been carried out by a vet - so don’t think you can do this yourself and it will be ok! You need to have made sure that you have the name and manufacturer of the product, the date and time they treated your dog and their stamp and signature for it to be valid. Otherwise, you’re looking at quarantine when you get back (and that can be very expensive!)
Are you travelling by and “authorised carrier and an approved route”?
You are only allowed to travel with your pet using an authorised carrier and an approved route so it’s worth double checking the DEFRA lists here! British Airways might fly to and from Stansted but they’re not allowed to carry your pet to and from there! London Heathrow and London Gatwick, on the other hand, are fine. It is worth checking! Almost all ferry routes are fine, as is the Channel Tunnel who also has some good advice about travelling with pets!
Can I still travel abroad with my pet from the UK after Brexit?
For now, we’ve added some advice about Brexit below and links to official websites as it’s important to make sure you’re up to date with all the advice before you travel and what effect Brexit might have on travelling with your pets!
"If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, after 31 October 2019 the rules for travelling to EU countries with your pet will change. You should start the process at least 4 months before you travel."Gov.uk official advice
Advice for people travelling with Guide and Assistant animals.
We would be lying if we told you we were the experts when it comes to travelling with Guide and Assistant animals but there are plenty of fantastic resources out there if you are which we’ve tried to list some of them here. It’s worth noting that all guide or assistant dog will still need to conform to all the above rules (microchipped, rabies, pet passport and tapeworms) when travelling.
What if your pet gets ill on holiday?
If you’re taking your pet away with you it’s vitally important to check and not assume that they will be covered by their pet insurance if they get sick, have an accident or are held in any sort of temporary quarantine. In some cases, you will need to add an optional ‘Holiday Cover’ to your policy to ensure you are covered to take them overseas. The benefits offered differ from insurer to insurer but can include cover if you have to cancel your trip, if your pet ends up in quarantine and loss of travel documents, as well as covering any emergency returns home. It is vital that you make sure that you have everything in place before you leave to go on holiday as you are more than likely to have any claim refused if you try and change the policy when you are already there.
Catteries, Kennels, Hotels
With all the options to take your beloved pet on holiday with you, it can see a little old fashioned to book them into a cattery or kennels but things have changed. Modern catteries and kennels are spacious, clean and provide lots of entertainment for your pet when you are away, sometimes more than they might get when you’re not at home and back at your desk.
The other, more luxurious options are pet hotels. Whilst they could be confused with catteries or kennels, pet hotels are the 5 star, no expenses spared accommodation choice. Along with providing your beloved pet with the normal services (keeping them well fed, clean, entertained and in good health) pet hotels go the extra mile offering add ons such as daily massages, a la carte menus and even bedtime settling.
There are some things to think about if you decide to go down either the boarding or hotel route, starting with ensuring you do some research to make sure that you find a reputable, licensed establishment with knowledgeable, caring staff who know how best to care for your pets whilst your away. Let’s not forget, a happy pet equals a happy owner.
It’s also important that you start planning early. The summer periods are the busiest so it’s best to get your pet booked in as soon as you find somewhere that you are happy with. We’d highly recommend visiting anywhere that you are thinking about - we’re all capable of making a small space look huge by standing on a chair so don’t just trust the pictures on their website.
All vaccinations must be up to date and any boosters will have had to be done 2 weeks prior to their stay. All boarding facilities and hotels will ask for evidence that this has happened and can refuse to let your pet stay if they don’t get the paperwork so this is a must!
If you’re not comfortable about leaving your pet at a cattery or kennel then don’t despair, there are other options. If you have a cat that needs looking after it’s worth first checking to see if a friend or neighbour might be willing to pop in and feed them twice a day. For our feline friends this tends to be a win-win situation. They are left in a familiar and comfortable surrounding whilst being checked on by someone who will have 10 minutes to have a cuddle and then let them get on with things. Cats spend up to 18 hours a day asleep so, if you’re away for a week or 168 hours they’ll be asleep for up to 126 of those and just having someone checking in on them twice a day is usually plenty.
We wouldn’t however, recommend this option for anyone who has a dog that they’re thinking of leaving at home. Dogs need far more stimulation than cats and regular contact with people as well as the daily walks. This doesn’t mean that all at home options are off but you might want to consider getting someone to come and stay with your dog (or cat even) whilst your away.
House sitting has become more popular over the years with plenty of websites dedicated to finding the perfect holiday companion for your pet. The premise is simple. If you can’t find a family or friend to look after your pet then why not pay for someone to come and look after them in your own home. Although you might not be initially comfortable with the idea of inviting a stranger into your humble abode, sites like Trusted Housesitters offer different levels of verification to ensure you the peace of mind that your home and pet will be well looked after.
Next article: 2019's hottest summer destinations
We're here to help.
Need some help booking all your holiday extras? Want to talk to someone about other options at the airport?
We want to help you travel hassle-free!
If your question is urgent, you can reach us on 0871 360 2603 or +44 1303 816201 when you're calling from abroad. Our contact centre is open from 8am to 9pm on weekdays and 8.30am to 8pm on weekends.